Kenya Golf Union chair reiterates Heath Ministry’s directives after closure order

By Robert Abong'o: Wednesday, April 8th 2020 at 18:45 GMT +3 | Golf
Kenya Golf Union's past Chairman Lucas Marang'a (right) hands over the Union's Shield to the Union's newly elected Chairman Anthony Murage (left) at Muthaiga Golf clubhouse on Friday, 24th May 2019 after the elections during the Union's Annual General Meeting [Maarufu Mohamed, Standard]

Kenya Golf Union (KGU) Chair Anthony Murage has echoed NO services will be offered inside golf club-houses, following a directive by the Health ministry.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe on Tuesday, April 7, ordered the closure of all golf clubs in the country with immediate effect following the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Kagwe noted sporting clubs were not observing social distancing protocols, saying such places could easily be hotspots for the spread of the COVID-19.

The CS also highlighted that measures would be put in place until the situation in the country normalises.

Kagwe also directed that managers in open-air sporting clubs adhere to social distancing protocols, saying the ministry had observed that members of those clubs flouted rules.

Standard Digital sought clarification on how clubs intend to operate:

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Kenya Golf Union (KGU) chairman Antony Murage spoke to Standard Digital after Kagwe’s speech.

Murage, in a phone interview with GameYetu on Wednesday, April 8, explained how clubs intend to operate during this period.

“There will be no services offered inside the golf clubhouses. We gave the Health Ministry a call after Kagwe’s speech seeking clarification and resorted to following his orders, which is the closure of all golf clubs in the county.  The Health CS also spoke about social distancing in clubs with walking fields and we have strictly adhered to this.

“Those interested in ‘walking the course’ can do so but must observe social distancing protocols. They will, however, be without caddies. Take note that the clubhouses themselves will not provide any service. You can walk the course and leave,” explained Murage.

The KGU on Wednesday, April 8 released a statement, reiterating guidelines on golf operations during this virus-stricken period.  

According to the statement, due to golfers' failure to comply with the Ministry of Health’s directives, the Union resorted to the following, upon recommendation by the Health ministry.

  • Closure of Club Houses: All clubhouses must be closed forthwith. Golfers must not be allowed to access the clubhouse for any services whatsoever.
  • Self-caddied golf: Golfers can play golf as long as they do not use the services of caddies and strictly maintaining social distancing. For this, golfers can either play alone, in twos or threes. The starting intervals must be at least ten minutes and golfers must not gather at the starters.
  • No congregation: Clubs must ensure that there is strictly no congregation on the club premises. This must be strictly enforced by clubs.
  • No reciprocation: Clubs should only be open to their members and should not allow guests or reciprocation.
  • Caddies financial support: Due the stoppage of use of caddies, the clubs are urged to set up caddie welfare kitty in support of the caddies who will be affected by this directive.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, address the media on 4th April 2020 at Afya house in Nairobi [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Kagwe’s statement on golf and sporting clubs

“In sporting clubs, open-air sporting clubs, that have walking fields must strictly observe social distancing. We have seen people walking and yes, it is necessary that people stay healthy, but we must observe social distancing. We have observed in some, where people are running next to each other, and there is no better way of passing this virus than when they do so. I would like to retaliate that the managers of those walking clubs must restrict number sin the club o that people can be able to keep social distancing. This measure we are going to observe, for the next couple for days and may then take further measures if it becomes necessary.

You are aware, it’s not a secret that even in golf clubs….golf clubs have also been abused. Consequently, all golf clubs must be closed with immediate effect. Golfers are free to walk, keeping social distances, but there will be no caddies in any of those golf clubs. In this particular case, it is actually the reverse, it is the members who will eventually pass the virus to the caddies and therefore golf clubs and clubhouses will remain closed,” said Kagwe.

Golf clubs around the country have sent a communication to members of temporary closure, with the Royal Nairobi Golf Club and the Karen County Club leading the way.

Royal Nairobi Golf Club closes [COURTESY]
Karen County Club closes [COURTESY]

Coronavirus kills former Mombasa Golf Club captain

This announcement comes a day after the death of former Mombasa Golf Club captain Mark Mbua.

Nyali Golf and Country club Chairman Christine Okotch (right) presents a prize to handicap 17 Mark Mbua at the clubhouse in Mombasa County on Friday, 19th December 2014 night. Mbua was the staff winner on 26 points at the Corporate tournament, a curtain-raiser of the 2014 Nyali Open Championships being sponsored by the First Chartered Securities under the flags of Mitchel Cotts ICEA LION Mombasa Continental Resort and NIC bank. [PHOTO BY MAARUFU MOHAMED/STANDARD]

According to reports, the 51-year-old died on Sunday morning, April 5 at around 5 am while admitted at the Coast General Hospital.  

The 51-year-old was the general manager in charge of terminals for logistics at Mitchell Cotts.

A golf official revealed Mbua succumbed to the coronavirus while isolated and undergoing medical treatment.

He was admitted to hospital on March 30.

According to the immediate former chairman of the club Simon Wambugu, Mbua was a real gentleman and a friendly man who loved to play golf.

“He was a real buddy, personally. He accompanied me to my son's wedding in Kigali, Rwanda in November last year. Mark you, we were competing with for the chairmanship in early March. That shows you the type of person he was. He was a gentleman on and off the course,” explained Wambugu.

Wambugu goes on to hail the ex-captain as a family man and a go-getter.

“He was friendly to everyone in the club. He was a family man. He always used to wear one t-shirt with his lastborn daughter’s name," said Wambugu.

It is reported staff who had been in contact with Mbua have quarantined.

He served as captain of the Mombasa Golf Club between 2017 and 2018.

Magical Kenya Open postponed

Earlier this year, the Magical Kenya Open Golf Championships was postponed due to the covid-19 threat.

“The Kenya Open Golf Limited (KOGL) has received the Government of Kenya’s decision to postpone all conferences and meetings of an international nature in Kenya for the next 30 days,” read a statement from KOGL to newsrooms.

The prestigious event initiated shock waves among the organizers and the players who had spent millions of money preparing for the tournament.

As of Wednesday 6:00 pm, April 8, the coronavirus had infected a total of 178 people in Kenya.

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